Our first stop at the end of The Meseta is the city of Leon which has a population of 134,000. Leon’s finest treasure is its Gothic cathedral. We spent a couple days enjoying the city and our new found freedom from rural life on The Meseta.
The Catedral de Leon features 130 stained glass windows together with three rose windows which is only surpassed by the 176 windows of Chartres cathedral in France. However, the windows of Chartres cover a much smaller surface area. The windows of Leon reflect both scenes of nature and aspects of the supernatural. *Information from Fundacion Jacobea.
The word Lion in Spanish is Leon; in Spanish it’s a nickname for a fierce or brave warrior. This Lion is escaping from a hole in the sidewalk is very creative.
We love Spanish Paradors … we just can’t afford them. They are luxury hotels usually located in a converted historic building such as a monastery or castle or in a modern building with a view of a historic or monumental city. Staying in a Parador is an immersion experience. Visitors learn about history or culture, they can be immersed in a city or immersed in nature depending on the location of the Parador. There are 97 Paradors in Spain and they are all run by the Spanish Government.
This is what I found to be one of the most interesting sites in Leon. The Monastery of San Marcos existed until 1837 when it was seized and abolished by Juan Àlvarez Mendizàbal (Prime Minister under Queen Isabel II). Monastic life of the friars of St. James came to an end after 700 years. The monastery faced several auctions and constantly changing inhabitants and uses. In 1936 it became a concentration camp where Franco imprisoned his political prisoners. It is believed that 20,000 Spaniards passed through the cells and approximately 7,000 died.
The monestary now facilitates the museum of Leon and is also a 5-star Parador. *mobi.parador.es
The San Marcos Parador was featured in the movie “The Way”. The Martin Sheen character treats his Camino friends to a night at this Parador.
Tomorrow we head north to ACoruna and then on to Camino Ingles.